Editorial boards criticize Democrats’ policies, processes

Tri-City Herald: Inslee put politics ahead of science, undermining fair Eastern WA compromise | May 31, 2024

“In the governor’s estimation, generating clean electricity trumps everything else. That sort of strident, inflexible view serves Washington poorly … EFSEC has 90 days to send a revised recommendation back to the governor. Rather than bow to his demands, it should send a strong message that says, in so many words, No, we got it right the first time. Local communities, cultural heritage and wildlife still matter in Washington.

The Seattle Times: Lawmakers failed in duty to protect children from fentanyl | April 30, 2024

“Earlier this year, the state Senate acted to keep children safe, voting 48-1 for SB 5010 to elevate the crime of exposure to fentanyl to a felony under an existing child endangerment law. Only state Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, voted against it. But in the House, Public Safety Committee Chair Rep. Roger Goodman did little more than shrug, choosing not to even give the bill a vote. The Kirkland Democrat said the bill reflected an attempt to criminalize parents. … With urgency, Goodman and his Democratic committee members should reconsider their position and act to help keep children safe.”

The Seattle Times: Don’t extend unemployment benefits to striking workers | February 28, 2024

“This bill is too costly and there are too many unknowns. It would alter the management-labor landscape in the state by exploiting an important benefit for unemployed workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and extending it to workers who decide to strike. Lawmakers in the state Senate should reject the bill.”

The Seattle Times: Publicly air WA’s long-term care plan | February 8, 2024

“Aside from being a mandate that the majority of the people of Washington didn’t ask for, the plan, known as WA Cares, had other problems … At the very least, Democrats should hold hearings on I-2024, having the public conversation about its merits and the obviously slow-walked efforts to fix its well documented flaws … Be bold, lawmakers. Have the conversation with your constituents in public hearings.”

The Columbian: Ballot initiatives require public discussions | February 7, 2024

Initiative 2117 would overturn the law, and the fact that hundreds of thousands of signatures were gathered should be eye-opening for lawmakers. But thus far, Democrats who control both chambers of the Legislature have been reluctant to engage in a public discussion. Such obfuscation not only belies the duty of legislators, it is not politically expedient.”

Capital Press: Politicians have a deep misunderstanding of the electorate | February 7, 2024

“Making the rounds in the Washington Capitol is legislation that would require all citizens to vote. It is a bad idea — as bad as any of the half-baked ideas that have been concocted in those halls. Yet four Democrats on the Senate’s State Government and Elections Committee voted for the bill, Senate Bill 5209, while three Republicans voted against it. While it is easy to understand the goal of increasing voter turnout, this isn’t the way to do it. In fact, it is the exact opposite of how to do it.”

The Seattle Times: WA Democrats, hold hearings on initiatives | February 4, 2024

“The Democrats, gatekeepers of all legislative committees, have made no commitments to debate any of the six in a public forum; they say they’re still having ‘internal conversations’ and researching the initiatives’ impacts to the budget and state law. Minority Republicans say that, by waiting, Democrats are shirking a responsibility enshrined in the state’s Constitution that initiatives should ‘take precedence’ over work other than budget bills. Regardless, the Democrats should hold committee hearings — and soon — on all the initiatives for two reasons.”

The Seattle Times: Time for a full account of WA ferries’ value | January 22, 2024

“‘We’ve just kind of had a round of bad luck,’ Inslee told the editorial board about a spate of vessel breakdowns in 2023. Hogwash. The state made its own luck by allowing its ferry fleet to antiquate and amass $270 million in deferred maintenance.”

The Chronicle: Negligence of Inslee, Ferguson at Green Hill a breach of public trust | November 13, 2023

“The dismissive response by Inslee and Ferguson and their failure to address the systemic issues at Green Hill and DCYF are unacceptable. The wellbeing of student inmates is compromised, and the integrity of the juvenile justice system in Washington state is at risk. The governor must be held accountable for his oversight.”

The Seattle Times: WA’s ferry system is broken, and Gov. Inslee must right the ship | November 10, 2023

“Gov. Jay Inslee, whose private Bainbridge Island home is mere blocks from one end of the state’s busiest routes, bears the greatest responsibility for the disrepair of its network of marine highways. He has one year left in his term to right the ship before cementing a legacy as the governor who sailed the system into decrepitude.”

The Seattle Times: Ignoring education for foster kids in lockup ensures failure | November 3, 2023

“But no one has been held accountable for these miserable outcomes. No one is willing to take responsibility, especially not for foster youths who end up incarcerated, most of whom are low-income children of color … The only realistic way off this conveyor belt is education, including job skills. But Washington’s progress on delivering these things has been infuriatingly slow. Legislative committees have been issuing reports and calling for improvements since the 1980s, if not longer … It is time to be done with this cycle of failure.”

Capital Press: Only government gets mandates without consequences | October 12, 2023

“Farmers and ranchers have often found themselves faced with unrealistic mandates that they can’t meet. But unlike state agencies, they face consequences for failing to meet the mandates of the legislature and regulatory agencies … There always seems to be one set of rules for the rulemakers, and another for the industries they regulate. For the governing class, doing the Lord’s work, just trying is good enough.”

Capital Press: Who causes high fuel prices? Politicians need only look in mirror | September 21, 2023

“If Inslee wants to give Washingtonians a break, then why does his administration refuse to refund farmers and ranchers the added cost of his cap-and-trade program? The legislature, which is dominated by his party, ordered the Department of Ecology to do it, but the agency refuses … If Inslee is serious about using cap-and-trade to pay for his climate change agenda, he needs to be honest with Washingtonians. He needs to tell them straight up that it will cost billions of dollars, and that money will come out of their pockets in the form of higher fuel and utility prices and higher taxes.”

The Seattle Times: WA fails mental health patients and communities | September 13, 2023

“Five years ago, Gov. Jay Inslee and a group of state lawmakers stood in front of Western State Hospital in Lakewood and presented an ‘aggressive … but doable’ plan to transform the state’s mental health system by 2023. They haven’t delivered … The state has failed in both its responsibility to help individuals suffering from mental health problems and to protect public safety.”

The Seattle Times: WSDOT, partners must act to avoid calamity of encampment fire under I-5 | August 25, 2023

“Gov. Jay Inslee and regional leaders must take immediate action to close the encampment and secure the area. A large fire or erosion near the pillars could render the freeway impassable … To those who have raised concerns about this particular encampment and its potential for devastating harm, WSDOT’s reaction comes across as buck-passing … The problem here is obvious. The potential for catastrophe is clear.”

The Columbian: State’s carbon-pricing program needs tweaking | August 19, 2023

“Yet, that legislation is imperfect. The price of permits in Washington have greatly exceeded the price in California and Quebec – jurisdictions with similar programs … Increased costs are evident in Washington, where gasoline prices have been among the nation’s highest throughout the summer. The Legislature should revisit the issue next year … If revenue is doubling expectations, then the program is not working as intended; it was intended nudge polluters to decrease emissions … Lawmakers also must recognize that consumers are paying a big chunk of that revenue.”

Capital Press: Current energy policies will leave us in the dark | August 17, 2023

“Unless policymakers change their timetables, government climate policies will likely leave many Americans stranded, cold and in the dark before the middle of the century. But that’s what happens when politicians listen to activists and ignore engineers … As one source explained, policymakers are putting the cart before the horse, forcing electrification before renewable sources of energy are in place to handle the demand.”

Capital Press: Inslee distances himself from impacts of his climate policies | July 27, 2023

“Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made a show last week of blaming oil company price gouging for making gas prices in the Evergreen State the highest in the nation … That’s a bunch of codswallop meant to draw attention away from the impact the state’s carbon-emission allowance auctions are having on the price of gas and diesel fuel … The whole point of the allowances was to drive up fossil fuel prices to stem consumption. Inslee is trying to run away from the intended consequences of the program he championed.”

The Seattle Times: State officials still have work to fix WA Cares | July 20, 2023

“Still to be addressed is the lack of portability of the benefits and the fact that people who may not have their own plan can’t inherit their spouse’s unused benefits upon their death … Veghte and some Democratic lawmakers continue to boast that Washington is the first state to implement such a program. Until its flaws are ironed out, there’s really nothing to brag about.”

The Columbian: Plans to close corrections center shortsighted | July 18, 2023

“State officials should reconsider plans for closing Larch Corrections Center in east Clark County. Given its status as the only prison in Southwest Washington and its record of providing education and vocational training, Larch should be expanded rather than shuttered … Those are the basics of the issue. The details are more complicated, and state officials would be wise to consider criticisms of the closure plan.”

Tri-City Herald: Don’t scrap new CO2 reduction program, but a fix to WA’s soaring gas prices can’t wait | June 30, 2023

“Gas prices are higher than they have ever been in Washington state and the hike came right when the cap-and-invest program went into effect. No matter how Inslee and others put the blame elsewhere, it’s apparent there is a correlation between the new program and the price at the pump. They need to quit pointing fingers and fix the flaws in the program.”

The Seattle Times: Echo Glen chaos shows WA’s failure to balance juvenile rehabilitation with security | June 9, 2023

“The capacity crunch points to a perennial problem: Progressive policies that feel good to lawmakers but are enacted without the supports to ensure they work … DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter says his agency ‘did not understand the severity of the challenge with this population.’ That’s hard to believe. Hunter is a numbers guy, and the data has been clear for quite some time.”

Tri-City Herald: WA paychecks will take a hit this summer. Long-term care tax is about to get real | May 25, 2023

“Despite knowing the WA Cares long-term care program still has problems, the Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee are allowing it to get rolling this summer … For all the talk about Washington state’s unfair regressive sales tax, this also is a regressive tax … For now, payroll deductions are coming for millions of workers in Washington state for a program that still needs work.”

The Columbian: Dems already have head start on new drug law | May 10, 2023

“Democrats have strong majorities in the House and the Senate, in addition to holding the governor’s office. Yet when Senate Bill 5536 failed to win approval, some Democrats disingenuously tried to blame Republicans for its defeat … Washington Democrats who embrace a utopian view of effective drug enforcement must return to reality and recognize that law enforcement and jurisprudence are important pieces of reducing dangerous drugs in our communities.”

The Seattle Times: The way Washington schools kids in lockup is criminal | May 9, 2023

“‘This has never been asked of us or expected of us,’ Reykdal said. Come again? The job is overseeing the education of every public school student in Washington … At least Rep. Lisa Callan, D-Issaquah, who convened the work group behind it, takes responsibility for this failure. ‘We definitely dropped the ball,’ she said, describing herself as heartbroken at the lack of progress.”

The Seattle Times: WA Cares to go into effect in July with flaws Legislature refused to fix | May 8, 2023

“From its inception, the WA Cares long-term health care insurance proposal was flawed … But WA Cares still needs fixes. The Democratic-led Legislature has had ample time to shore up the program since it was created in 2019, but has failed to do so.”

The Columbian: Lawmakers’ budget process lacks transparency | April 30, 2023

“Amid all this, frustration remains over the process that forges the state budget every two years. This year, a proposal was not released by legislative leaders until the day before the end of the session, leaving rank-and-file lawmakers — and the public — little time to process it … Out of a desire to improve transparency and reduce the chaos, lawmakers should be able to give the budget as much consideration as they do more mundane proposals.”

The Seattle Times: Legislative report card: A mix of achievements, progress and failures | April 28, 2023

“House Democratic leadership and Gov. Jay Inslee were quick to blame Republicans, who voted to oppose the measure. Don’t believe it. The House, Senate and Governor’s Office are controlled by Democrats. Republicans raised legitimate concerns about the bill’s details … A few take-aways from this debacle: House Democrats must grapple with members of their caucus who would be fine with decriminalizing possession of controlled substances, and therefore have no interest in negotiation. Inslee was a non-factor, perhaps taking for granted that a deal was at hand. But his lack of situational awareness and political juice was striking.”

Tri-City Herald: WA legislators must get back to work. Drug law needs statewide fix and it can’t wait | April 27, 2023

“Lawmakers knew at the start that one of their top priorities would be fixing a stop-gap drug possession law set to expire July 1, but they unfortunately let the issue go until the final hours of the legislative session Sunday night. In the end, the House couldn’t agree to the negotiated Senate version and time ran out.”

The Seattle Times: Call special session of WA Legislature to fix drug possession mess | April 24, 2023

“Instead, lawmakers should build on the Senate’s hard work in crafting bipartisan support for a Blake solution. House Democratic leaders, in particular, should recognize the importance of bipartisanship, given their bill failed to garner any Republican votes … Senate Bill 5536, which earned bipartisan support in the Senate, is a good place to start. In fact, on Saturday, Republican House leader J.T. Wilcox emailed House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, and pledged his support: ‘We have a significant number of votes possible for the version of Blake that was negotiated in the Senate. We would be willing to talk about a way forward tomorrow on that basis (Sunday) if the current effort cannot be executed.’”

The Seattle Times: Faith in government depends on keeping promises | April 16, 2023

“This is not the province of local government only. In a story headlined ‘Institutional Crisis’ [April 9, A1] Times reporter Esmy Jimenez detailed vows made by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2018 to transform the state’s mental health system by 2023. The state failed to meet its goals.”

The Columbian: House Democrats disappoint on police pursuit bill | March 10, 2023

“It is, indeed, frustrating and disappointing that Democrats would not support a bill they previously championed and that is supported by law enforcement. It also is nonsensical. Public consensus seems clear that changes to the current law are warranted, and Democrats handed Republicans a winning political talking point … Republicans are right to hold Democrats accountable for the change of attitude … While the Senate has provided a lifeline by passing the bill, House Democrats have damaged their credibility.”

The Columbian: No task force needed regarding police pursuits | February 23, 2023

“Law enforcement officials and city leaders throughout the state have reported that suspects are fleeing with impunity, secure in the belief they will not be followed … Testimony from law enforcement would seem to belie claims that the current law is working as intended. The intent was to reduce high-speed chases that endanger bystanders and other motorists; the result has been suspected criminals ignoring lawful stops — and thereby endangering the community … A task force should not be required to figure out what is right and careful when it comes to keeping our communities safe.”

Tri-City Herald: One lawmaker should not thwart proposed changes to WA’s police pursuit law | February 22, 2023

“The pursuit law was changed in 2021 as part of an overall police reform effort, but law enforcement officials and a number of politicians from both sides of the aisle now agree it went too far … It didn’t take long for criminals to become bolder under the new pursuit law … If Democrats and Republicans in the House are willing to compromise on the pursuit law, then members of the Senate should have that chance too. One lawmaker should not stall the process.”

Capital Press: Cap-and-trade auctions need oversight | February 9, 2023

“House Bill 1659 — sponsored by Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, and Rep. Mark Klicker, R-Walla Walla — calls for a nonpartisan watchdog agency to provide oversight. Our objections to the Climate Commitment Act aside, with that much money coming into the till someone needs to make sure the deals are fair all the way around.”

The News Tribune: WA must finally address mental health delays in jails. The cruelty is staggering | January 27, 2023

“The continued failure of Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services to provide jail inmates with court-ordered mental health treatment by the deadlines mandated by a federal class-action settlement must finally be addressed … Washington needs to invest in people, invest in facilities and invest in new ideas to transform what’s clearly broken.”

Tri-City Herald: WA’s tax system is broken, but using the courts to slip in an income tax is wrong | January 25, 2023

“Democrats insist that a capital gains tax is an excise tax and therefore should not be considered a tax on earned income, which would be considered unconstitutional. However, the IRS says a capital gains tax is an income tax, and past rulings by our state Supreme Court have affirmed that position. So the goal by Democrats is to hope a majority of Supreme Court justices sees things their way this time so they can do an end-run around the constitution. The strategy has been long in coming.”

The Everett Herald: Shavers should step down from House veterans panel | January 19, 2023

“The answer is no; state Rep. Clyde Shavers, D-Oak Harbor, should not be serving on a legislative committee that hears issues related to the state’s military veterans … What should concern members of the committee and Shavers’ party is that those he seeks to represent on the panel, including military members, veterans and their families — because they hold their own to a higher standard — may now lack confidence in his statements and commitments, just as his misrepresentation to the editorial board prompted it to rescind its endorsement of him in the race. Any lack of confidence among his military peers is likely to scuttle the impact Shavers’ service on the committee can have.”

The Seattle Times: Long underfunded, special education finally gets lawmakers’ attention | January 16, 2023

“The popular understanding of budgets is that, despite coming across like cold ledger sheets, they are deeply human documents, a numeric portrait of priorities — in other words, the things we care about. Going by that metric, it’s hard to stomach the implications of Washington’s long-inadequate funding plans for the 151,000 students who need extra help to become well educated.”

The Seattle Times: Soaring graduation rates raise more questions than congratulations | January 11, 2023

“So-called “do no harm” grading surely eased a chaotic and frightening time for thousands of teenagers. But in the long run, there will be consequences … What may look like kindness now could put young people in a bad place down the line. It isn’t much of a stretch to envision a high school graduate who got a break on her English requirement, later floundering on college-level essays … Meanwhile, the state Board of Education, trying to avoid the calamity of mass failure, allowed thousands of kids to waive core courses and exams normally required for a diploma.”

Tri-City Herald: WA state’s COVID emergency lasted 975 days. Lawmakers must fix flaw in the law | December 29, 2022

“The problem is that in Washington — unlike other states across the country — there is no way to check the governor’s power after a state of emergency is declared. State legislators are forced to sit idly by while the governor makes all the major decisions. Regardless of what people think of how Inslee managed the pandemic, no one person should have that much unrestricted power for months on end. It goes against the foundation of the checks and balance system. Now that COVID has exposed this governmental flaw, it would be irresponsible not to address it.

Capital Press: Electric power system by mandate, not design | December 15, 2022

“We think the state’s mandates and strategy depend on a certain amount of magical thinking. It rests on technology that produces electricity only under optimal conditions, even as it pushes demand for electricity. It mandates strict deadlines … It seems the state — and all states pushing similar measures — should have consulted engineers before passing its mandates.”

The Columbian: Replenish rainy day fund and help taxpayers | November 23, 2022

“Replenishing the rainy day fund should be the first priority; saving for the future when money is available is the prudent thing to do. Beyond that, help for taxpayers is necessary; high inflation rates have burdened family budgets, increasing the cost of food, fuel and medicine. A reduction to the sales tax would be effective, providing the most relief for the residents most in need … But the paramount task will be for Democrats in the Legislature to engage with Republicans. Neither side has a monopoly on the best ideas for spending — or saving — taxpayer money.”

The Columbian: For victims of assault, justice delayed too long | November 17, 2022

“In 2019, a different bill set a deadline of Dec. 1, 2021, for the backlog of kits to be tested while requiring periodic assessments from the auditor’s office … In that regard, the state has not fulfilled its promise to victims of sexual assault. Nor has it fully protected potential future victims; according to the audit, research indicates about half of those who commit sexual assault have done so more than once … For many victims in Washington, justice has been delayed far too long.”

Capital Press: Putting electric cars ahead of the electric grid | November 10, 2022

“Through both overt actions and acquiescence, the state of Washington has accelerated the state’s future demand for electricity ahead of its ability to develop the infrastructure to produce and convey it where needed … It’s a classic example of putting the cart before the horse, but not a surprising outcome when central planners put their hands on a system the free market built in the last century … Yes, the cart has been put in front of the horse — each of which will be handy if you want to get around Western Washington in the next decade.”

Capital Press: Washington gives up its sovereignty, again | October 27, 2022

“We have been critical of the Washington Legislature’s decision to surrender its sovereignty to unelected partisan appointees in California. Here we go again … No doubt the Democrat majority in Olympia would find itself in lockstep with whatever Sacramento thinks is best. But as a courtesy to their constituents, Washington legislators should have at least waited to see the actual policy and its potential ramifications before making it law in the Evergreen State.”

Capital Press: Penalties for thee, but not for we | September 8, 2022

“Washington law requires 20% of the fuel used in state-owned diesel-powered vehicles, vessels and equipment to be biodiesel … Unfortunately, the plan has fallen flat…. Farmers and ranchers have often found themselves faced with unrealistic mandates that they can’t meet. But unlike state agencies, they face consequences for failing to meet the mandates of the legislature and regulatory agencies … Penalties for thee, but not for we.”

Tri-City Herald: COVID is no longer a crisis but WA emergency rules remain. The Legislature must step in | August 25, 2022

“We have an out-of-whack emergency powers law that needs adjusting. And it will be up to the Legislature to fix it. Lawmakers should figure out a veto-proof plan to restore the balance of power as soon as the legislative session begins in January … One lone government official should not have sole authority over people’s lives for so long … It is imperative the balance of power be set right.”

The Columbian: Tighten up state’s emergency declarations laws | August 19, 2022

“Lawmakers tepidly broached the issue during this year’s session. But a Democratic-led Legislature is reluctant to temper the power of a Democratic governor, and efforts to better balance state government were largely ignored … Legislators should assert their status as a co-equal branch of government … No emergency is indefinite, a fact that should be reflected in state law.”

The Seattle Times: Inslee should end emergency orders — COVID-19 is part of life now | August 16, 2022

“A perpetual state of emergency undermines the balance of power between branches of government … Expanded executive powers are useful in cases of war, civil unrest, disaster, disease or other extraordinary circumstances, but only until situations are stabilized. We reached that milestone long ago.”

The Columbian: More officers needed to address rising crime | July 28, 2022

“There is disagreement about why some law enforcement agencies are struggling to attract and retain personnel. Pay is one factor, experts say, while others blame in part the Legislature’s efforts to address use of force, which critics claim hamstring officers and fan disrespect that’s lingering following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.”

The Columbian: State can afford to share with taxpayers | June 24, 2022

“Now, with a new state revenue forecast projecting big increases in the coming years, we repeat the mantra: You don’t have to spend it. As Senate Republican Leader John Braun of Centralia said: ‘It’s ridiculous for the Legislature to be sitting on a growing mountain of cash while families across our state are struggling to afford the basics and watching their buying power shrink because of inflation.’ … Property tax relief, a sales tax reduction, and a reduction in the business and occupation tax all should be on the table. As The Columbian wrote editorially earlier this year: ‘Relief for taxpayers would demonstrate that elected officials remember who they are working for.’”

Tri-City Herald: Is Gov. Inslee really using Trump to justify going after WA’s Snake River dams? | June 10, 2022

“Ahead of the report’s release, it would have been helpful if Inslee had given a substantive comment on the issue. But instead, he chose to deflect and bring up that Trump was in office when the EIS was completed. Tri-Citians deserved a better response than that … But on the Snake dams issue, he missed an opportunity to provide Tri-Citians with a sensitive response. Blaming Trump was a poor way to sidestep the question.”

The Columbian: Effort to recall Inslee was the wrong approach | May 2, 2022

“Lawmakers this year made a tepid attempt to enhance the balance between the executive and legislative branches. Senate Bill 5909 would have allowed legislative leaders from both parties and both chambers to end an emergency order if the Legislature is not in session – as long as all four agree. The impotent bill did not come close to passage … There is, indeed, good reason to place additional checks on the power of the governor. As the pandemic has demonstrated, emergency measures sometimes are necessary, but legislative approval should be required to extend those measures beyond a specified time — be it 60 or 90 or 180 days.”

The Seattle Times: Chopp’s funding grab subverts King County Regional Homelessness Authority | March 31, 2022

“But the veteran state lawmaker took a serious misstep in trying to redirect $2 million in state capital funding to a low-income housing organization he co-founded 30 years ago … At best, Chopp’s tug of war with state dollars and local spending decisions is muddying the waters as the authority launches a coordinated, data-driven campaign to tackle homelessness. At worst, his actions threaten to undermine the fledgling authority’s success and raise questions about his allegiance to the Low Income Housing Institute, which he co-founded in 1991.”

Tri-City Herald: WA Gov. Inslee among final few to end COVID state of emergency. He should share his plans | March 30, 2022

“Gov. Jay Inslee would be wise to take note, and explain when he might stop his sole COVID emergency powers, or at the very least, outline what goals must be met in order for that to happen … Inslee, on the other hand, has been keen to keep his COVID superpowers unchecked, and Washington state’s Democratic-led legislature has allowed it … Inslee should take Brown’s words to heart and realize his sole grip over the COVID pandemic is not meant to last forever.”

The Seattle Times: WA state Legislature’s big achievements fell short in key areas | March 23, 2022

“But lawmakers in the Democratically controlled House and Senate fell short in many other places, particularly in terms of proving themselves nimble enough to deal with emergent needs … The absence of taxpayer relief in a year of a $15 billion budget surplus – and inflation at 40-year highs – strongly indicates that the current power players simply don’t care to cut. Ever.”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Republicans lament missed chances of 2022 session | March 20, 2022

“The key, Braun said, is to be ‘reasonable. ‘Common sense has to prevail,’ King added. We couldn’t agree more. Failure to give serious consideration to all legitimate and sincerely offered points of view is perhaps the greatest missed opportunity of all.”

The Seattle Times: WA voters deserve better than redistricting fiasco | March 14, 2022

“Democratic legislative leaders – House Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig – have declined to fight a lawsuit aiming to make a Yakima Valley district more Democratic, despite earlier votes to leave the map largely unchanged … The Democratic legislative leaders who voted with wide majorities to only tweak the commission’s maps before enacting them should stand behind their votes by defending the maps in court.”

Tri-City Herald: WA Dems are blowing it. Export fuel tax plan is horrible, and so is raiding public works | March 6, 2022

“With gas prices soaring, Washington state Democrats are looking at a variety of ways to fund their proposed $16.8 billion transportation package without adding to the gas tax … And so far, their ideas on how to make up that gap have been terrible … Republican lawmakers have a better plan that makes sense and should be considered by the Democrats: take half of the sales tax collected on vehicle sales.”

The Columbian: Strong legislation needed to curb governor power | February 22, 2022

“Senate Bill 5909 passed by a 29-20 vote, with Republicans in opposition. Republican Senate Leader John Braun of Centralia told The (Tacoma) News Tribune: ‘This bill does not fix the problem. It allows the majority to do exactly what has been done for two years, which is nothing.’ That is not adequate for the people of Washington. And it should not be adequate for lawmakers, who must insist upon having input regardless of which party occupies the governor’s office.”

The Columbian: Share state’s revenue bounty with taxpayers | February 21, 2022

“Given those realities, legislative Republicans say they will push for tax cuts in any budget proposal … Indeed, taxpayers should share in the state’s good fortune. Social issues such as the unhoused population and climate initiatives demand attention, and lawmakers should ensure a robust reserve in order for the state to meet the next crisis. But relief for taxpayers would demonstrate that elected officials remember who they are working for.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Bill on emergency power limits ineffective | February 20, 2022

“After two years of a declared state of emergency, it’s about time measures were put in place to manage the length of declared emergencies and emergency mandates rather than leaving that up to the governor. However, a recent measure created to fix this issue, Senate Bill 5909, does not do enough … If it’s going to bring balance back to our government and increase accountability and oversight of long-lasting executive actions, SB 5909 needs more work.”

The Seattle Times: Build state’s transportation plans on a bipartisan foundation | February 18, 2022

“Democratic transportation leaders wrote the legislation without consulting their Republican counterparts. The bills arrived hobbled from being negotiated in this echo chamber when a better process could have produced sounder results … The transportation proposal relies upon questionable sources for billions of dollars to fund important projects. At the same time, it leaves money in the general fund that would be wise to invest in the necessary maintenance the state routinely shortchanges … Shoring up infrastructure ought to mean political bridge-building in Olympia, too.”

Tri-City Herald: Don’t be fooled. Bill by WA Senate Dems does little to contain Inslee’s emergency powers | February 18, 2022

“But one person should not have so much power for so long. This present situation undermines the checks-and-balance system we rely on to ensure that one branch of government does not become more powerful than the others … SB 5909 is a start but it isn’t good enough. But there is still time to make it stronger — if only the Legislature would stand up for itself.”

The Seattle Times: Enact tough laws to stop catalytic converter theft | February 13, 2022

“Sponsored by Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, House Bill 1815 calls for task force to study the issue. That would mean another year of costly thefts for individuals and insurance companies. Not good enough … Washingtonians need more than a task force to put a dent in this crime. Lawmakers should show state government can recognize and attempt to alleviate a public safety concern shared by millions of residents.”

The Columbian: Nurse staffing bills may not be healthy approach | February 11, 2022

“In an attempt to alleviate that, the Legislature is considering House Bill 1868 and its companion, Senate Bill 5751 … The question is whether legislation will effectively address those issues. Hospitals are reporting difficulty finding qualified candidates willing to take nursing jobs — a situation that will not change under HB 1868. And mandating staffing levels for private businesses is an invitation for unintended consequences.”

The Columbian: Kreidler shouldn’t act alone on credit ratings | February 7, 2022

“Regardless of the merits of Kreidler’s argument, the decision should not be his alone to make. When a decision impacts the premiums of millions of policy holders in Washington, the Legislature must be involved. If Kreidler cannot effectively make his case to lawmakers and convince them that the use of credit ratings is inherently unfair, his only viable option is to try again.”

The Seattle Times: Inslee’s solution to ‘big lie’ threatens free speech | January 26, 2022

“Gov. Jay Inslee wants to make it a crime to lie about elections. His proposal, which will have a public hearing Friday, is a clear threat to free speech and must not move forward … With a guaranteed First Amendment battle in court, it is likely only a matter of courtesy that the governor’s much-touted proposal has come this far. In that spirit, we politely ask that this misguided bill go no further.”

The Columbian: Criminalizing election falsehoods misguided | January 11, 2022

“Lies about election results and election security might create a clear and present danger, but legislating against them is a capricious endeavor. Allowing the state to determine what is false and what is likely to incite or cause lawlessness creates a slippery slope for democracy and the marketplace of ideas.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature’s opportunity in election-year session | January 7, 2022

“In the months since lawmakers enacted a controversial long-term care program, backlash from taxpayers, employers and others has shown that the bill wasn’t ready … Leaders in the Democratically controlled Legislature should consider existing bipartisan bills that limit how long a state of emergency can continue without oversight from the Legislature. It is their duty to safeguard their role in the system of checks and balances that protects our democracy.”

The Columbian: Close digital divide to enhance equity | December 29, 2021

“The Legislature this year took some convoluted steps to address the situation. Lawmakers passed competing bills to help provide internet access to underserved regions, and Gov. Jay Inslee compounded the confusion by signing the bills simultaneously. Kim Wyman, secretary of state at the time, had to make a ruling on which bill takes precedence.”

The Columbian: Cheers & Jeers: Safe Stay; rethink tax plan | December 4, 2021

“Jeers: To poor legislation. It seems that nobody is happy with Washington’s plan for a payroll tax to fund long-term care. Employers in the state are scheduled to begin withholding the tax Jan. 1, but Senate Democrats have asked Gov. Jay Inslee to delay the plan … The law was passed in 2019, but recently has come under increased scrutiny. When even the majority party in Olympia starts to express doubts, it becomes clear that the plan was not well thought out to begin with.”

The Seattle Times: Challenge other Inslee abuses of veto power | November 21, 2021

“As a former legislator and member of Congress, this third-term governor should not require such judicial enforcement to understand the concept of separation of powers … Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, both Democrats, condemned the governor for exceeding his power and said lawsuits were coming. Now six months later, they have not delivered.”

The Columbian: Inslee veto ruling underscores checks, balances | November 14, 2021

“This week’s rebuke of Gov. Jay Inslee by the state Supreme Court is not a matter of politics. It is an important example of the checks and balances that allow the American system of government to function … On Wednesday, the court ruled 7-2 that Inslee had overstepped his veto authority in striking a sentence that appeared seven times in a 2019 transportation budget passed by the Legislature.”

The Seattle Times: State’s infrastructure failures require immediate attention | October 31, 2021

“Washington’s leaders are failing their constituents on transportation infrastructure. Though Congress is wrangling over a federal bill that could bring billions for our state’s roads and culverts, the Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee have been disappointingly slow to fix the neglect that wastes time and fortune. That’s shocking, especially with legislative leaders shrugging about missing the opportunity to act this year.”

The Seattle Times: Washingtonians deserve a reliable, resilient ferry system | October 29, 2021

“Washington State Ferries, the nation’s largest ferry system, is in trouble. After months of delays and canceled sailings, staffing woes have forced the agency to cut back services indefinitely. While COVID-19 is a major cause, its effects exacerbated challenges for the underfunded and antiquated system.”

The Columbian: Inslee should suspend WA Cares program law | October 18, 2021

“Washington’s road to a payroll tax supporting long-term care has too many potholes for a smooth journey. Gov. Jay Inslee should suspend the program until legislators have an opportunity to level the path … Some fixes are required — particularly the expansion of benefits to people who paid into the fund but then moved out of the state – before workers start seeing a deduction in their paychecks.”

The Seattle Times: Gov. Inslee should extend deadline for long-term-care insurance | October 11, 2021

“The rush to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime exemption is likely fueled, in part, by known flaws in the program: People fewer than 10 years from retirement will pay the tax but won’t be eligible for benefits. People who live in other states, like Idaho or Oregon, but work in Washington will also pay the tax without reaping the reward. Other payees will lose out if they move out of Washington.”

The Seattle Times: Fix diversity issues in Washington State Patrol | October 10, 2021

“A spokesman for Gov. Jay Inslee said his office is committed to diversifying the WSP. ‘We know there is still work to be done. We will continue to be involved in those discussions with State Patrol to make more progress.’ After years of identifying a problem, it is past time for WSP to resolve it. Reform the psychological exam process, and hire more psychologists.”

Tri-City Herald: ‘Who you gonna call?’ Thanks to WA state’s police reform bills, there is no easy answer | August 6, 2021

“The majority of lawmakers were irresponsible when they approved limiting what police officers can do without also ensuring that someone else can step in to fill that service gap, and now there is confusion statewide … Reform of this magnitude should have had clarity from the get-go. That it doesn’t puts communities and police in a no-win situation.”

The Columbian: WA Cares Fund comes with concerns | August 5, 2021

“Critics such as the Washington Policy Center have pointed out several shortcomings in the law. The vestment period means that money will be taken from soon-to-be retirees who will never qualify for benefits; the benefits are not portable for residents who retire out of state; and out-of-state employees of Washington companies will pay into the fund but not be eligible for benefits … Those items will require consideration from lawmakers. But the immediate concern for workers is whether or not to pursue private insurance under a deadline that is fast approaching.”

The Olympian: Washington state’s police reform is taking effect without alternatives in place | August 1, 2021

“The state police reform laws that took effect a week ago are creating new threats to public safety … So we can only hope for light at the end of the tunnel we have just entered, but it’s a long, dangerous tunnel.”

Walla Walla Union Bulletin: Capital gains tax obviously unconstitutional | July 30, 2021

“Our biggest concern is that this capital gains tax could morph into a full-blown income tax in the future that many, if not most, Washingtonians would have to pay. From where we stand, this newly approved legislation sets a precedent for just that to happen … If the Democratic majority truly believes an income tax (including taxing capital gains specifically) is necessary and would be embraced by the people, then have an honest debate on taxing income and attempt to change the state Constitution.”

Walla Walla Union Bulletin: New police reform bills need a rewrite | July 27, 2021

“It would be one thing if the new bills were written with precision and clarity. But throughout the process and the state, they have only broadened in application and caused more confusion — angst and anger, too — than understanding … Frankly, the present vague wording of the bills helps no one. Our people and our officers deserve better than this.”

Tri-City Herald: New WA tax law could upend retirement plans. The blame is on Dems and Gov. Inslee | July 18, 2021

“What was especially upsetting is that in addition to trying to get around the constitution, the majority party also twisted the intent of the legislative emergency clause that should be used only in true emergencies. The capital gains tax bill includes a provision designating the tax as “necessary for the support of the state government and its existing public institutions.” That language was put in place as a way to stop voters from trying to repeal the new tax through the referendum process.”

The News Tribune: Tacoma woman denied animal visit before she died. When will COVID’s toll on seniors end? | July 1, 2021

“Allowing Washington’s older, most vulnerable residents to languish isn’t acceptable. Restoring quality-of-life elements that were stolen by the pandemic is essential … Among the lessons of this past year is that time is precious, isolation exacts a heavy toll and nobody has borne the physical and social burden of this virus more than seniors.”

The Columbian: Extending eviction moratorium wrong approach | June 28, 2021

“Gov. Jay Inslee’s extension of a statewide eviction moratorium expands an overly broad policy and ignores legislation passed this year to balance the needs of renters and landlords … Washington lawmakers took that into consideration in providing a detailed plan for addressing a difficult situation that reverberates throughout the economy. Inslee should have paid attention rather than unilaterally changing the deadline.”

The Seattle Times: Inslee’s double-signing stunt a wasteful abdication of duty | June 16, 2021

“Because the Legislature punted on choosing between them and sent both bills, the governor’s job was to figure out which was more important before signing them. Here is where Inslee fell down on his desk … He could have vetoed one, or in the manner of King Solomon, threatened to kill both to force the Legislature’s hand. Even signing one, then the other, could have constituted an official decision. The newest law on a topic takes precedence, generally … None of these paths was for Inslee.”

The Daily News: With veto, Inslee proves even his own party shouldn’t trust him | June 6, 2021

“His veto ended up selling the legislators down the river. How can Democratic leadership now work out compromises among their own members — to say nothing of negotiating with Republicans — when the governor has double-crossed them on such key and prominent legislation? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me … While we support efforts to combat climate change, we acknowledge we are not big fans of the cap-and-trade legislation, for a host of reasons.”

Tri-City Herald: WA Dems went too far. Their pursuit of another income tax took a wrong turn | June 2, 2021

“It’s bad enough Democrats pushed a capital gains tax through at the same time revenue is predicted to soar in Washington state. But what’s especially galling is that they also devised a way to stop voters from repealing the new tax through the referendum process.”

The Everett Herald: Inslee’s recent vetoes may prove costly to his goals | June 2, 2021

“The governor no longer need be concerned about how he’ll occupy the time remaining in his term. He can add two major infrastructure projects to his list: rebuilding the bridges he just burned.”

The Seattle Times: Legal or not, remember shady road to capital-gains tax | June 1, 2021

“Any new tax will generate some pushback, but Washingtonians have a right to be riled by this outrage. In their rush to cross this item off their wish list, state Democrats failed to make their case. The capital-gains tax doesn’t balance the tax code; it just adds another layer. With strong revenue projections and operating budgets already leaping — up to around $59 billion in 2021-23 from $32 billion just a decade ago — it’s difficult to justify a brand new tax.”

The Seattle Times: See you in court, governor, over infrastructure vetoes | May 19, 2021

“In undoing lawmakers’ careful bargain, Inslee signals he would rather have his climate legislation in hand than sow good legislative relations for the future. It isn’t just the state’s highway bridges that are in disrepair. Earnest, involved deal making is essential to good governance.”

The Columbian: Land-use laws causing high-tech stagnation | May 13, 2021

“Land-use laws help preserve the lifestyle of the Northwest and prevent sprawl that would despoil rural landscapes, but they come at a cost by limiting large manufacturing industries.”

The News Tribune: ‘I was pretty mad’: Tacoma’s Jinkins stunned by COVID phase pause, says plan must evolve | May 11, 2021

“Trying to find a just-right solution may be a fairy tale. But the governor ought to adjust his plan to emphasize more timely metrics, such as vaccination and death rates … It’s about providing a measure of predictability and not squandering the confidence of Washington’s second-most populous county.”

The Daily News: Emergency power is not absolute | May 2, 2021

“Inslee has wielded his power at times carelessly and disrespectfully, even referring to complaints as ‘carping from the cheap seats.’ He’s correct: Cowlitz County can’t afford a seat at the table where he holds his closed-door meetings. But our elected representatives should be seated there … Our battle against unchecked, concentrated power should be conducted on the same basis. The unaccountable power we’ve lived under for more than a year demands a bipartisan response.”

The Columbian: Legislature must end use of title-only bills | April 28, 2021

“Regardless of how one feels about the budget passed by this year’s Legislature, all Washington taxpayers should be appalled by the process. Lawmakers continue to embrace an opaque process that chips at the foundations of open government … The people of Washington deserve better. They deserve a Legislature that is willing to outlaw title-only bills or leadership in Olympia that refuses to consider bills that undermine transparency.”

The Columbian: Legislature should act to balance government | April 14, 2021

“Several bills were introduced in this year’s Legislature to address the governor’s power. They received little attention, with Democrats holding a majority in both chambers and unlikely to challenge the power of a Democratic governor. But the issue goes beyond the current Legislature and the sitting governor; it speaks to the balance between the branches of government and the question of how long a governor should be allowed to declare an emergency.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Latest state green bill needs more thought | April 6, 2021

“Beyond this, many Washingtonians are still hurting financially because of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Though we are now in Phase 3, there are still those whose jobs have been lost and hours have been cut. A boost in fuel costs will only add to their burden … While we agree the goals of this bill are all important, local taxpayers and businesses simply can’t afford to do it all – particularly in the midst of an economic slowdown created by a pandemic.”

The Seattle Times: Next Corrections leader must repair prison health care | April 5, 2021

“Regardless, Sinclair’s departure poses an opportunity for the governor to make fixing the state’s litany of prison clinic failures a top priority. The next secretary must do better by the health of the state’s imprisoned population.”

Tri-City Herald: Gov. Inslee’s emergency powers over COVID have gone unchecked long enough | April 2, 2021

“It would ease people’s minds to know their legislative representatives have some say in how the state re-opens. And it would make Washington state’s three branches of government work together as intended. No one leader is supposed to have so much power for so long over so many.”

The News Tribune: It’s time for Washington elected leaders to come out of bunker, meet in person again | March 31, 2021

“The Legislature, now in the homestretch of its 2021 session, sets the tone for the rest of Washington. But this year both chambers have been largely empty, except for a handful of staff members and a presiding lawmaker on the rostrum up front … ‘It’s not good to normalize doing things distantly,’ House minority leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, told us in a recent call. ‘That could become the default. I’m willing to put lines of tape on the floor or whatever’s necessary.”

The Seattle Times: Keep mom-and-pop landlords in business | March 28, 2021

“Washington’s policymakers should encourage these entrepreneurs instead of driving them away. Gov. Jay Inslee missed an opportunity to fine-tune the state eviction moratorium to help struggling renters without unnecessarily burdening small landlords … Lawmakers should continue to refine one-size-fits-all proposals to protect these small businesses in this time of need.”

The Daily News: Capital gains tax isn’t about fixing Washington’s state budget and should be scrapped | March 21, 2021

“While recovery from this deadly pandemic certainly will be a long and hard process, it appears Olympia has no shortage of cash to fuel the rebuilding. So naturally, Olympia Democrats have decided to attempt a tax increase … This bill is designed not to assist the many, but to salve the conscience of a few.”

The Seattle Times: State’s windfall another strike against capital-gains tax | March 18, 2021

“Supporters have thin justifications for imposing it, so the proposal ought to be tossed out. The revenue projections swamp any argument the state needs the money now. Further, the bill itself does a poor job of stating why it would be needed in the future. House finance Chair Noel Frame, D-Seattle, told the editorial board the bill is connected to funding House Bill 1213 to expand child care and early education, and House Bill 1297, which expands tax credits for a working families tax. But, clearly, Wednesday’s announcement shows the state has enough money already.”

The Seattle Times: Olympia’s forecast for transparency is partly cloudy | March 14, 2021

“One perennial issue is title-only bills, which are empty husks that the majority party has used to ram through policy goals at the end of the session with little chance for public oversight. At least for the 2021 mostly remote session, the state Senate hit the pause button on those when it adopted its emergency parliamentary rules. But the temporary rule change doesn’t preclude them in the future. Disappointingly, lawmakers killed two Republican proposals to reform title-only bills permanently.”

The News Tribune: Curbing Inslee’s emergency power all but dead. We should learn from Texas, New York | March 11, 2021

“The problem is that there’s little appetite among Democrats to challenge Inslee. That’s a shame. Power-sharing between the three branches of government shouldn’t be a partisan issue. In the long run, this isn’t about whether you agree or disagree with a particular governor. It’s about preserving a balanced, constitutionally sound government, where the public’s voice is carried by the 147 representatives and senators they elect.”

The Seattle Times: State Senate should hit brakes on capital-gains bill | March 4, 2021

“Confoundingly, the bill disingenuously alleges an ‘immediate’ need and uses an emergency clause to ratchet up the effective date. Clearly, that canard is a legislative ruse to block a potential citizens’ ballot referendum, not to rush tax dollars to the people. The capital-gains tax wouldn’t reap its first dollar until 2023 at best. That wait would almost certainly be longer if an expected court fight drags out. And the Supreme Court may well find that a capital-gains tax violates the state constitution’s ban on taxing income.”

The Columbian: Timing wrong for proposed statewide soda tax | March 4, 2021

“That is costly for public health. But it leads to questions about government’s role in influencing social behavior, and it leads to questions about whether such influence is the proper avenue for boosting state tax revenue … In addition, the tax would be particularly regressive. Studies have shown that low-income people drink more sugary beverages than those in other demographics.”

Tri-City Herald: Don’t keep us in the dark, Gov. Inslee. Where does your COVID roadmap lead? | March 3, 2021

“But Inslee also said that the details for Phase 3 and Phase 4 were still being worked out and he did not have a date for when those guidelines would be released. That announcement came as a shocking blow to people who have put their lives on hold for a year. People are anxious and they need something to cling to. They need to see that their governor has a strategy for getting us to the end, not just partway. And while we understand Inslee is concerned about how an emerging COVID variant could affect the state’s recovery plan, that is still no reason to delay setting out criteria for future phases.”

The News Tribune: How to raise Washington taxes during COVID-19 pandemic: very cautiously or not at all | Feb. 27, 2021

“No matter how constructed, a capital gains tax is arguably an unconstitutional income tax in disguise and may not survive the inevitable court challenge. We’re also concerned that the bill has an emergency clause that would block a citizen referendum. Why shouldn’t Washington voters, who’ve rejected income tax proposals 10 times previously, have a direct voice in a major course correction in tax policy?”

“The proposed 1.75-cent-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax had a public hearing last week and received more criticism than support … Sure, the tax might deter unhealthy choices and chip away at obesity and diabetes rates. But we can’t muster much excitement for another regressive tax in a state that already tops the list.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: State wrong to use tax on sugary drinks as way to improve health | Feb. 26, 2021

“The state Legislature is looking at imposing a tax on sugary drinks — soda, juice and sweetened coffee — in an effort to reduce consumption of sugar and improve the health of Washingtonians. While we agree it’s best that people limit their sugar intake for the sake of their overall health, it’s not the state’s place to impose a tax as a de facto way to dictate what people drink or eat.”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Capital gains tax is wrong for many reasons | Feb. 26, 2021 

“Historically, Democrats in Olympia who have favored a capital gains tax have been held in check not just by Republicans but by more moderate Democrats. It’s time again for moderate Democratic lawmakers to see reason, make their objections heard and stop unneeded SB 5096 in its tracks.”

The Seattle Times: Legislators must drop hasty, flawed capital-gains tax push | Feb. 22, 2021

“A capital-gains tax bill moving toward a state Senate vote is too flawed and should be abandoned. The Democratic leadership’s rush to create this tax even as the state’s revenue picture is expected to continue improving, coupled with its disingenuous use of the legislature’s emergency power, further signals a need for voter skepticism.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Latest capital gains tax plan is still an income tax | Feb. 22, 2021

“Again, while that’s just political pandering, it doesn’t change the fact it is still an income tax, and it’s still unconstitutional. If the Democratic majority truly believes an income tax (including taxing capital gains specifically) is necessary and would be embraced by the people, then have an honest debate on taxing income and attempt to change the state Constitution.”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Phase 2 delay could have been avoided | Feb. 21, 2021

“No more surprises, governor. If you are unwilling to give local health districts more of a say in how to handle the pandemic in their own counties, at least give them a heads-up before you make your decisions final and reveal them to all. It could save unnecessary anger and embarrassment.”

The Columbian: Legislature must beef up aid for restaurants | Feb. 18, 2021

“Lawmakers also should be included in devising guidelines for reopening the state. A bill that would have moved all regions into Phase 2 is now moot, but legislative involvement will be important for providing input from regions of the state that often are unrepresented at the executive level … In addition, the state’s Employment Security Department requires oversight as it continues to struggle with getting unemployment assistance where it is most needed.”

Tri-City Herald: Tri-Cities can’t risk COVID data errors. Counties need access to regional numbers | Feb. 17, 2021

“That a significant reporting error from one hospital could keep six Washington counties from moving forward in the state reopening plan shows a flaw in the system, despite Gov. Jay Inslee’s affirmation of the Roadmap to Recovery process. If it hadn’t been for gut feelings, keen eyes and pressure from public officials in Washington state’s South Central region, the Tri-Cities might still be stuck in Phase 1 … But the debacle highlights the need for a course correction in how COVID statistics are being dispersed and checked.”

The Seattle Times: Probe Employment Security Department’s missteps | Feb. 12, 2021

“But state lawmakers have more to do to hold the Employment Security Department and the governor accountable for last year’s delays and missteps. Among them were efforts to obfuscate a state Auditor’s probe and journalist’s questions … The Legislature has a duty to provide a check on the state’s executive branch, especially considering Democrats control both houses and governor’s mansion. And particularly so, considering LeVine’s role as a highly successful fundraiser for Democratic politicians. The ruling party must ensure Washington public interest is served before party loyalty and push hard for answers to tough questions and accountability where it’s due.”

The Columbian: LeVine pick begs question of her qualifications | Feb. 12, 2021

“LeVine had a tumultuous tenure in state government. The department was overwhelmed by unemployment claims as the coronavirus pandemic shut down the economy, with thousands of Washingtonians unable to receive much-needed payments. At the same time, the department paid out about $600 million in fraudulent claims that originated overseas … The Employment and Training Administration, which has about 1,000 employees, is more consequential. It should have leaders with a proven record of effective management, not a stormy reign as the head of a state agency.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Free market, not states, must drive electric car sales | Feb. 11, 2021

Some in the Washington state Legislature want to impose a ban on the registration of new gasoline-powered cars by 2030. This proposal seems to put government mandates over the free market … The Washington state Legislature does not need to get involved at this point.

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Cost is too high for Washington state low carbon fuel standards | Feb. 7, 2021

“This plan would likely cause shock at the gasoline pumps for those who drive cars. A study conducted for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency found that low carbon fuel standards could add up to 57 cents to a gallon of gas and up to 63 cents to a gallon diesel by 2030. Keep in mind that Washington state currently has one of the highest gas taxes in America. If a gas tax hike is warranted, we would prefer it be targeted for upgrading roads and infrastructure. But, again, after we have moved past the COVID-19 crisis. This is simply not a good time to take on an ambitious low carbon fuel standard plan. The economic cost is too high when so many are already struggling.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Tax on billionaires might cost state a heavy price | Feb. 4, 2021

“In the long run it might hurt Washington state more than it helps it even if it is ruled constitutional. Bezos, Gates, Ballmer and Scott are, let’s say, golden geese for this state. Do we really want to force them to fly south or east?”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Data breach prompts conflicting information | Feb. 4, 2021

“However this latest pandemic-related black eye unfolds, it is paramount that the state agencies involved be completely transparent with investigators, each other and the residents of Washington — including thousands in the Yakima Valley — as to facts, dates, numbers and any other details that shed light on this incident. What did they know and when did they know it?”

Tri-City Herald: WA Gov. Jay Inslee has too much power over COVID. Lawmakers must fix the law | Feb. 3, 2021

“There are bills waiting to move in the House and in the Senate that would limit the governor’s powers in an emergency to 30 days before getting legislators involved, but despite support from several lawmakers — including those from our region – these bills don’t appear to be going anywhere. They haven’t even been scheduled for a public hearing. Not one of them. The holdup is disgraceful.”

The Seattle Times: A legislative check on the governor | Jan. 31, 2021

“In the early days of COVID-19, Gov. Jay Inslee provided the rapid response the state needed through executive action. However, as the pandemic wore on, his ongoing power gate-keeping, cutting the Legislature out of decision-making, became increasingly difficult to justify. A bipartisan group of lawmakers are supporting a Senate bill that would ensure that future lawmakers can better serve as a check on such executive overreach.”

The News Tribune: It’s time for Washington Legislature to check Gov. Inslee’s pandemic superpowers | Jan. 30, 2021

“They owe it to voters and the constitution to uphold the separation of powers. Both chambers are controlled by Inslee’s fellow Democrats, however, so it’s unclear how far they’re willing to go — and how much backbone they’re willing to show … The Republican-sponsored bills, while far from perfect, reflect a growing impatience among pandemic-weary Washingtonians who elected legislators to represent them, not just a governor. Democratic leaders should pick one or two of these bills and schedule them for public hearings.”

The Seattle Times: The rainy day is here — lawmakers should bolster economy | Jan. 29, 2021

“However, the Democratic majorities should earnestly address needs their Republican counterparts see in their districts. Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, has proposed a more ambitious $4 billion relief package that would spend down almost all of the rainy-day fund, along with using the federal money, and send relief checks to low-income residents and parents.”

Tri-City Herald: WA lawmakers should talk to farmers before pushing a low carbon fuel plan | Jan. 29, 2021

“For the fourth year, Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing a low carbon fuel plan for Washington state, and for the fourth year in a row the proposal still promises too little benefit to justify the extra cost at the gas pump. While the arguments for and against the plan haven’t changed much, this year proponents are emphasizing that adopting a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) will help the state agriculture industry. The problem is the farmers aren’t buying it.”

Tri-City Herald: Those hoping to reopen WA restaurants were mistreated at failed public hearing | Jan. 22, 2021

“So it is extremely distressing that when over 400 people signed up to testify Wednesday on a proposal to reopen restaurants and other businesses during the COVID pandemic, only a fraction of them were allowed to speak. And many of those who did talk ended up abruptly muted mid-sentence and cut off as soon as they hit the one-minute mark. That wasn’t right.”

The Seattle Times: Corporate and federal help on vaccinations sorely needed | Jan. 21, 2021

“This state’s failure to build an efficient vaccine-delivery system encompasses multiple shortcomings, from slow delivery of received doses to the bungled tracking of vaccinations. An investigation by the Times’ Mike Reicher showed how the state Department of Health and a software nonprofit mishandled statewide logistics, leaving data burdens on hundreds of vaccine providers that should have been more efficiently managed. It remains mind-boggling that, this far into the pandemic, a state so focused on the tech sector fumbled this long-known challenge.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Timing is wrong for enormous hike in state gas tax | Jan. 21, 2021

“Making gasoline more than 30 cents a gallon more expensive could undercut efforts to get the state’s economy headed in a positive direction. It will also add further pain to those who have had their work hours reduced or have been laid off in the midst of the pandemic … This is not a good time to add such a huge tax burden.”

The Seattle Times: State must come clean about delayed COVID-19 vaccine rollout | January 14, 2021

“There is no good reason for Washington to rank 36th among U.S. states in initial COVID-19 vaccine shots administered per capita. There is an appalling one: Washington ranks 26th in the percentage of received vaccines that have been delivered to patients … Washington deserves a full accounting for why the statewide rollout is taking so much painful time.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Less spending, not more taxes, is recipe for state budget | January 12, 2021

“As the state Legislature convened in Olympia (and on Zoom) Monday — with the critical task of approving a two-year state budget topping the agenda — too many lawmakers, as well as the governor, are pondering more taxes. That’s the wrong mindset.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature’s remote session must be fully transparent | January 10, 2021

“And the Legislature must not engage in the odious practice of introducing “title-only” bills the public cannot scrutinize until significant proposals are dropped late in the legislative process.”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Plenty to hope for as Legislature convenes | January 10, 2021

“Inslee has yet to run afoul of state law, however, as courts routinely turn away challenges to his authority. Because of this, several local lawmakers have expressed support for rewriting state law. And while our expectations are limited — Inslee’s party controls both chambers of the Legislature, while every Valley lawmaker is Republican — we agree that this is a conversation worth having. Inslee’s decisions on closures and timetables, his one-size-fits-all system of metrics from county to county, and his refusal to call a special session are causes for deep concern.” 

The Seattle Times: Any new state taxes or fees must meet a high bar | January 8, 2021

“Nevertheless, many Democratic leaders, who control the governor’s mansion and both legislative houses, are enthusiastic about raising even more money. Lawmakers should measure any such proposals of any new taxes or fees against a high bar. In this fragile recovery, increasing the burden on households and employers, many of which still are struggling, could be detrimental. Lawmakers should be especially skeptical of Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal …  Pain endures for many households, and recovery is uncertain for most employers. Yet the overall strength of Washington’s economy is providing ample tax dollars to balance the state budget and more. This precarious situation should make legislators wary of any new tax or fee proposal.”

The Columbian: Shake up Employment Security Department | January 3, 2021

“The bottom line now is what are Washington’s elected officials going to do about the Employment Security Department? Gov. Jay Inslee has made clear he’s loath to dismiss LeVine, whom he appointed to the job. But someone must be held responsible for the agency’s continuing problems … The state Employment Security Department is due for a shake-up. The top might be a good place to start.”

The Seattle Times: Restore faith in Employment Security | December 27, 2020

“The theft and delays have led some to call for LeVine’s replacement. But Gov. Jay Inslee seems bent on forgiving and forgetting the agency’s fumbles, saying in a recent meeting with editorial board members that he feels the beleaguered department is on an “arc of improvement.” In a follow-up, a spokeswoman stressed that the governor will “continue to demand accountability and improved performance from ESD, as he does for all state agencies. The public needs more than pat assurances. It needs results.”

The Seattle Times: Taxing employers will prolong Seattle’s economic pain | December 22, 2020

“Seattle desperately needs more common sense and reasonable voices to be heard. Now is the time for City Hall to support employers so the city can recover and again be a great place to start careers and companies. Pay heed, Legislature.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Inslee’s capital gains tax plan should be quickly rejected | December 21, 2020

“We believe this proposal, like previous efforts to impose an income tax in Washington state, should be quickly rejected by the Legislature.”

The Seattle Times: Prisons must rectify pandemic mistakes | December 3, 2020

“Washington’s Department of Corrections’ history of poor management, medical and otherwise, hobbled its pandemic response from the outset. Missteps and inaction, including not enforcing that guards wear masks, endangered prisoners with nowhere to go to protect themselves.”

The Columbian: Special session of state Legislature crucial | November 24, 2020

“With a spike in coronavirus infections, such orders may be necessary. But they fail to address the economic pressure that will be placed on business owners and employees. State Rep. Larry Hoff, R-Vancouver, said: ‘He can’t possibly understand what the effect is on these small businesses. He’s continuing to get paid. These businesses are shut down and scratching to survive.’ That is why the Legislature must be called into session. Emergency relief is required, and input from lawmakers is needed.”

Inslee should expand his bubble, call special session of Washington Legislature | The News Tribune | November 18, 2020

“Inslee, for his part, has made a few overtures about possibly, maybe, but probably not calling a special session. Washington Republicans asked for one after the newly reelected governor announced he’s again shutting down major parts of the economy, this time until at least mid-December, to stem the fast-rising viral tide. In our view, Inslee should acquiesce to the request and expand his bubble of decision-making input. He should call lawmakers to Olympia to tackle a narrowly defined agenda on a short timeline.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Governor’s new restrictions could have benefited from Republican input | November 18, 2020

“Democrats in Washington state hold all the power, but if they want all of Washington to pull together they would be wise to make a stronger effort to include Republicans in discussing solutions.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature must fix inflated car-tab fees definitively | October 20, 2020

“The Legislature finally should answer the voters’ widespread discontent with Sound Transit’s car valuation schedule, which calculates registration fees on a basis far higher than a car’s market value.”

Tri-City Herald: A gas tax won’t fix climate change. State lawmakers must oppose this low-carbon plan. (February 28, 2020)

“If ESSHB 1110 — the low-carbon fuel standard bill — gets through this year’s legislative session, then the price at the pump will shoot up and disposable income will go down. For those on a fixed income, this is a horrible scenario.”

“And gas prices won’t be the only concern. The cost of food and other goods shipped by truck will rise because businesses will have to pass on the extra shipping expenses to their customers.”

“We are not deniers of climate change, but we believe ESSHB 1110 is regressive, and delivers too little environmental bang for the buck.”

The Seattle Times: The Legislature clings to its old tricks (February 17, 2020)

“Meanwhile, Republicans, now in the minority, have found religion on the issue. They introduced three bills (HB 2190, SB 2042 and SJR 8214) to reform or prohibit title-only bills. Those bills had some bipartisan support, but none received a committee hearing, dooming them for the session.”

“Title-only bills remain unseemly and duplicitous — yes, perhaps they bend the rules just short of the constitutional breaking point. That’s why a legislative fix is preferable, but Democrats killed that idea.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Lawmakers continue legislative trick to skirt constitution (February 12, 2020)

“And so the shenanigans in the state Legislature will continue.”

“That became clear last week when the effort to end the practice of ‘title-only’ bills — offering only a vague description of the proposed legislation such as ‘fiscal matters’ but containing no actual text of the proposed law — died without a committee hearing.”

“That means lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Legislature can continue circumventing the state constitution in pushing through legislation without the glare of public scrutiny in the final days of the legislative session.”

The Seattle Times: Legislators, keep prioritizing congestion relief (February 7, 2020)

“Washington lawmakers must scrutinize a bevy of Seattle-spawned land-use, head-tax and transportation proposals. They are heavy on emotional arguments and platitudes and light on details about who really benefits.”

“One of the most insidious proposals would radically alter the way state transportation projects are funded, potentially undermining jobs and the economy. Legislators should reject this scheme, in House Bill 2688 and Senate Bill 6398.”

“Unbelievably, the bills seek to remove “congestion” and “freight mobility” from the list of criteria used to allocate transportation funding.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Legislature shouldn’t curb voters’ initiative power (January 19, 2020)

“Still, it’s very troubling that 11 state representatives have signed on to legislation (House Bill 2529) that aims to restrict the people’s right to put an initiative or referendum on the ballot.”

“The legislation, which was introduced last week as lawmakers began their 60-day session, limits what can be considered during odd-year elections. Specifically, it prohibits initiatives and amendments to the state constitution in years ending with odd numbers such as 2019.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Pragmatism needed in setting carbon-emissions rules (January 17, 2020)

“Imposing unreasonable fees in the state would hurt consumers and put businesses in the state at a competitive disadvantage with those in neighboring states. It could also drive businesses from Washington.”

Tri-City Herald: Gov. Inslee’s Snake River dam study wasted money telling us what we already know (December 22, 2019)

“Considering the state has no authority over whether the dams are breached — only Congress has that — spending money on a state study was a waste.”

“But a majority of state legislators insisted we need to have a state dialogue on the issue, so the plan went forward.”

The Columbian: Legislature should end use of ‘title-only’ bills | June 21, 2019

“When the Legislature reconvenes in January, one of those priorities should be the elimination of ‘title-only’ bills. Such legislation, in which a blank bill is filed with the text to be filled in later, is an affront to the notion of transparency and an offensive attempt to avoid the state constitution.”

Columbia Basin Herald: Title-only bills need to go | June 19, 2019

“The state legislature is no place for games. The democratic process allows citizens to be active participants in the legislative process and we believe it is time for lawmakers to adhere to democratic principles and ban title-only bills outright.”

Walla Wall Union-Bulletin: Effort to approve capital-gains tax should be ended | June 5, 2019

“A capital-gains tax is an income tax, which is simply not allowed under the state constitution.”

“Our biggest concern is that a narrow capital-gains tax passed next year could morph into a full-blown income tax in the future that many, if not most, Washingtonians would have to pay. If this were to succeed it would be circumventing the state constitution.”

Tri-City Herald: On taxes and transparency, the 2019 Legislature gets a D- | May 19, 2019

“All in all, we think a course correction is in order. Banning title-only bills would be a great start, and that’s a realistic change we would like to see introduced next session.”

“More transparency could improve the legislative process, and perhaps clean up some of the mess created this session. Judging by what happened this year, improvement is desperately needed.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Washington’s Legislature must be more transparent | May 13, 2019

“Take, for example, the way the Democratic-majority in the Legislature used a parliamentary trick to get around the state constitution at the end of the just completed legislative session.”

“It’s time for the Legislature to put an end to this title-only scam.”

The Spokesman-Review: Title-only bills are an insult to democracy | May 12, 2019

“Democrats in the state Capitol weren’t about to let a little thing like the Washington Constitution stop them from raising taxes. As the legislative session wound down last weekend, they used a constitutional loophole to cut the public out of debate and pass the surprise tax increases. Closing that loophole should be the first order of business when lawmakers return to Olympia next year.”

“Even some Democrats opposed the increases and the underhanded way their colleagues passed them.”

“If Democrats had run the bill through the banking committee, they might have slowed down because there’s a good chance it violates the U.S. Constitution by treating in-state and out-of-state banks differently.”

The Columbian: State budget process in need of transparency | May 9, 2019

“In the end, lawmakers passed a dizzying array of tax increases in putting together the largest budget in state history. Despite a surge in state revenue created by a strong economy, the Legislature was unable to live within its means. The two-year budget, which goes into effect later this year, represents an 18 percent increase in spending over the current biennium.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Rescinding Oregon sales tax exemption hurts locally | May 7, 2019

“The bottom line is that repealing this tax exemption at the point of purchase might hurt the state’s economy worse than anticipated.”

The Everett Herald: A troubling short cut for state tax increase on banks | May 7, 2019

“The problem lies not so much with the tax increase itself, although it doesn’t require even Sutton-like logic skills to wonder how difficult it will be for the nation’s largest banks to pass on the costs to consumers because, well, ‘that’s where the money is.’ No, the larger issue is with the process that was used to propose and pass tax increase legislation in the session’s final three days.”

The Seattle Times: Washington lawmakers dodge the constitution with title-only bills | May 6, 2019

“In the final hours before the end of the 2019 legislative session, Democrats in Olympia rammed through a tax increase on big banks. They used a parliamentary gimmick called a “title-only bill” to bypass the state constitution and cut the public out of the process.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature 2019: Some gains at high cost | May 3, 2019

“Though state revenue surged last year, the Legislature still couldn’t live within its means and passed a dizzying array of tax increases. As has become lawmakers’ secretive norm, some were passed in the wee hours with last-minute bills, precluding public engagement and analysis of how much they’ll cost residents.”

Yakima Herald: The good, bad and perplexing of the legislative session | May 3, 2019

“Thumbs-down. New taxes: Why were new taxes needed, given state revenue projections? Certainly, many measures needed funding — special ed, mental health — but not beyond existing state revenue. School levy lift: We believe the Legislature’s action to ease a local school levy cap after one year, to placate districts in more affluent areas, will result in inequality in school funding — and perhaps another lawsuit that the McCleary ruling was supposed to settle. Bad move.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Boosting local school levy collections is wrong approach | April 30, 2019

“The Democrat-controlled House and Senate opted to raise the levy lid to essentially fix their own blunders. The structure of the K-12 funding plan approved last year allowed some school districts (Walla Walla was not one of them)   to raise teacher salaries to a level so high that they could not be sustained beyond this year.”

The News Tribune: New tax hard to swallow; Washington Democrats pull fast one in Legislature’s last weekend | April 30, 2019

“Not out of sympathy for big banks, but out of recognition that a slapdash tax plan makes for bad public policy, accountability and transparency. To rush it through the Legislature in 48 hours is indefensible — and indigestible.”

The Columbian: Legislature hits deadline, gets mixed report card | April 30, 2019

Yakima Herald: Legislature’s late ‘big reveal’ budget hinders transparency | April 29, 2019

The Columbian: Tighter DUI law will keep roads safer | April 24, 2019

The Seattle Times: No to Seattle congestion pricing | April 17, 2019

The Columbian: Lifting levy lid violates spirit of McCleary deal | April 11, 2019

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Don’t put school-funding burden back on local taxpayers | March 31, 2019 

The Spokesman-Review: Washington needs doctors; funding delays are senseless | March 15, 2019

The Columbian: Plea for no tax increases fiscally responsible | March 24, 2019

The Seattle Times: Lawmakers eye local taxpayers, again, for schools | March 22, 2019

Tri-City Herald: If you don’t want gas prices to go up, let Olympia know this bill isn’t the answer | March 23, 2019

Tri-City Herald: Republican or Democrat? Washington’s voters shouldn’t have to tell | March 20, 2019

The Seattle Times: Climate proposals need better cost analysis | March 15, 2019

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: State DOC must do better tracking inmates’ sentences | March 5, 2019

Yakima Herald: Time to stall climate bills that would raise gas prices | March 1, 2019

The Seattle Times: Washington’s struggles to track prison sentences are unacceptable | February 27, 2019

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Scuttle the effort to raise state gas tax | February 25, 2019

Tri-City Herald: Inslee’s proposed Snake River dam task force will be a waste of money | February 24, 2019

The Seattle Times: Stop the local tax grab and increase state dollars for education | February 22, 2019

The Spokesman-Review: A statewide plastic bag ban doesn’t make sense | February 10, 2019

Yakima Herald: Don’t lift the levy cap on school funding | January 25, 2019

The Columbian: Keep a lid on it | January 10, 2019

Yakima Herald: Gov. Inslee’s capital gains tax won’t fly in this state | December 22, 2018

“Here’s the thing: Many learned people in the state, as well as such federal arbiters of fiscal matters as the Internal Revenue Service, have stated that a capital gains tax, no matter how it’s configured, counts as an income tax. As such, that would make the governor’s proposal to generate a billion dollars a year with this method to help fund a $54.5 billion state operating budget unconstitutional.”